As part of our series on meetings with Mormon General Authorities, we interview Lance and Nicki Miles. Lance and Nicki’s story four-part story has so many compelling (and epic!) components, including:

  • The death of Nicki’s dad at 13 years old, bonding her to the church.
  • Sexual shame in the teenage years and into their missions.
  • Lance’s father (a Mormon bishop) coming out as gay and being ostracized from the family.
  • Lance and Nicki’s own faith transition.
  • Lance and Nicki’s private meeting with Elder Marlin K. Jensen, former LDS Church Historian.
  • Nicki and Lance’s feminist awakening.
  • Re-defining their marriage and lives post-transition.

The interview is divided into the following parts:

Part 1: Mormon upbringing, how they met, and how their individual mission experiences intertwined

Part 2: A serious discussion about Lance’s father who comes out as gay and the impact it had on the Miles family.  Nicki and Lance share how their feelings towards their father evolved in a more positive direction as time progressed.

Part 3: The meeting Nicki and Lance had with Marlin K. Jensen, former historian for the LDS Church.  They detail the questions asked of the historian, and the impact his answers had on them.

Part 4: Nicki’s feminist awakening and the impact it had on Lance’s view of their marriage.  Transitioning out of the LDS Church led the couple to take a serious look at the foundation of their marriage and their approach to raising their children.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:


  1. Lance Miles April 22, 2017 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Woah! Well, for better or worse…it is finished. :)

    I want to quickly clarify a few things in the interview. 1) Holy cow, my reluctance to say the “sin” that my best friend and I committed that night before his death made it sound like we might have messed around with each other sexually…not that there’s anything wrong with that. ;) We had chewing tobaccoo…lol. I just didn’t want to say it for his family’s sake but, instead, I made it seem WAY worse.

    2) At the end of the interview we talk about the new name given in the temple. I mentioned that the Masons also give a new name and someone posted in the Facebook Live feed that is a current Mason said that wasn’t true. I went back and did a quick search and found that in the 1820’s the Masons were giving new initiates a new name. The few links a delved into all used “CAUTION” as the new name. I didn’t research any further and if anyone has more details then please post them.

    3) I was mistaken about the sealing of Fanny Alger. This is what Marlin Jensen wrote to me one the subject: “As to the marriage of Joseph to Fanny Alger, it’s difficult to pin down the date of the marriage, but it likely did occur before April 1836. A 1896 account by Mosiah Hancock tells of the ceremony being performed by his father, Levi. Levi reportedly repeated the words of the ceremony as they were given by Joseph. The ceremony was likely performed by the authority of the holy priesthood–which had been restored by that time–but was not an eternal sealing in terms of Section 132. As for it being “a nasty affair”, Fanny’s parents and brother came west and were solid Church members. I doubt this would be the case if Joseph had done something morally wrong.”

    I just wanted to clarify those things. I also want to post another comment because I didn’t follow up on a couple items I mentioned earlier in the interview (about the gift of tongues and my dad’s testimony of the 11 witnesses) but I’ll do that later.

    Thank you all for the positive support! It has been very healing for us.

  2. Trudy Duisen April 22, 2017 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    So touching. Thank you for high jacking my afternoon. Truly wonderful.

  3. Lizbet April 23, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this interview and for the open and honest experiences shared.

    I could relate to Nicki’s “two good choices.” At 18, I felt my choices were either get married (if there was an opportunity) or go to college as something to do while I either a) waited for a mission at 21, or b) waited until I got married and had kids, because obviously I would be staying home with the kids. I didn’t feel like I had other choices. Women who delayed getting married missed all the RMs and ended up eternally single or married out of the church – at least that was the perception. Even my choice of college major was based on what I could get done quickly to help support my husband while he finished a “real” program to take care of the family. I look back bitterly now that my most significant life decisions were made based on what the church was telling me I should be doing.

    Regarding Lance’s discussion of his first endowment experience, I too felt disturbed by the cultish behavior in the temple. I left that day crying on the drive home but not able to even admit to myself why I was crying because it had to all be true. I thought, I’m crying because I built the temple up in my mind so much that now I’m feeling disappointed that it wasn’t what I thought it was, which was part of it (certainly never any indication of what it was really like in all of those YW lessons), but later I was able to admit it was also being disturbed by the clothes, the chants, the actions, etc. It wasn’t the beautiful spiritual experience I thought it would be and it didn’t feel like it was part of the church I knew and loved. Or at least what I thought the church was from Sundays and seminary. It took me 15 years to even admit that to myself.

    • Liz April 25, 2017 at 6:29 am - Reply

      I had the same experience as you with the temple. But it’s not us who build the temple up in our minds it’s tscc indoctrination from
      The time we are 3. One of the many reasons it is a cult.

  4. Elizabeth Fountain April 23, 2017 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    Both Nicki and Lance said things which both my husband and I said during our transition. We were “golden converts”, lasted 6 years and the straw that broke the camel’s back was the “brethren ” siding with a fellow priesthood holder after I had witnessed him kicking his 3 year old daughter. I was told that he would NEVER do such a thing.

    • Nik April 24, 2017 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Mom.

      I would like to say that I think this was one of the best Mormon Stories episodes. Nikki and Lance were so relatable to me. I was like Lance in that I used religion as a means to justify horrible behavior towards other people- namely demanding others to act and behave a certain way around me so I could feel comfortable and be able to maintain my gospel standards. Looking back now, I am so embarresed on what I did- all because that is what the Church expected.

      I was a “golden” convert at 18, went on a mission at 19, temple marriage at 24, a high priest at 26, etc. I truely became a true blue correlated Mormon dude. It took me nearly 16 years before I was able to stop attending. When my mom left, shortly before my temple marraige, as stated above, I was angry and just dug in deeper. But it wasn’t till I learned about the history that I was then able to leave. Anyway, there is so much more to my story…

      • Nik April 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm - Reply

        Forgot to mention that Marlin K. Jensen’s son was my old bishop. The senior Jensen would visit the ward regularly and was treated like a total rock star. I remember back in 2011 Jensen spoke during sacrament meeting and he quoted Fawn Brodie’s book No Man Knows My History. I thought that that was odd- seeing that the book was Anti-Mormon. Looking back now, I think Jensen knows its all fiction, but is just doing his part to keep the ship from sinking.

        • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 1:16 pm - Reply

          Wow, very great stories Nik and Elizabeth! lol…a mother and son…that’s great! Thanks for sharing a little of your life. It’s pretty crazy what we get ourselves into. I just spent last night and this morning talking with two different families who brought their kids up in the church then the parents had a crisis of truth and now they’re struggling to deal with their relationship with their believing children. What a challenging situation. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Leah April 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    Its hard to articulate my exact feelings on how my life could have been different if the church wasn’t preaching or pushing the choices of women. I think to myself, “how would my life be different if I wasn’t in the church?” I would have had a great relationship with someone who I turned away because he was an atheist. I would have continued in my career and been happy with my own self-reliance. I would have done what my heart was pleading for me to do but instead I only did what I thought the church and my family wanted.
    Now, with 2 kids and a TBM husband, my heart wants to break free like a bird but I feel trapped because my life is already set in stone as a mom and wife. I love my spouse but he also was a decision based on faith because he was the most qualified for me so I married him, while I never desired him sexually. Being in the “spiritually arranged” marriage is hard, now that I am out of the church. My own life is still still connected to the church and I feel I am doomed to a life that I wish I was truly free from the life I made because it was what the church told me to do.
    Is it so awful to want to be free and also love your spouse?
    Feeling fooled and duped by the church has led me to have the uncontrollable urge to “get away from it all.”
    BUT this podcast was so great and I enjoyed the whole thing (it was long for sure) for it isn’t common for people to follow their heart and conscience and leave the church like this couple.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      So heartbreaking Leah. Nicki and I have really had to do some hard counselling as we’ve transitioned. We had to decide if our somewhat rocky marriage was worth saving or if we would be better off separating. We have grown so much over the past 4 years and I’m certainly happy that we’ve been able to make it work but I no longer fault anyone for ending their marriage. This is our one KNOWN shot so we better make it as joyous as possible! I don’t know about you women but “MEN are that they might have joy,” afterall. :)

      Thank you for watching!

  6. Neuquino April 25, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Amazing interview!! I listened to it all, originally skipping straight to the Jenson interview and then going back to listen to the rest.
    I have to say part 2 was by far the best part. The story of your dad, Lance, was chilling. So tragic…and in the end it looked like he still believed in the church after the hell he went through. What made it connect with me so much was when you described what was going on through your mind, the justifications for disowning your father..i was just like you were! Thinking “how can you love the sinner/hate the sin when he’s still sinning!” or assuming since he’s gay, he’s a pedofile. Or wishing that he kept his identity a secret just a couple years later so he could die with that secret…wow. I feel so bad for your dad.
    Just like you, my mindset has done a complete 180 from that, and to hear it from someone else shows me how terrible religion can shape your world view. It can justify the most horrible ideologies. It can make you hate yourself and live a miserable life, drinking this mental poison every Sunday. A gay person has no place in the LDS church, not until they fix this terrible and pervasive mentality.
    Thank you for being so open, honest and vulnerable to us!

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Wow, thank you, thank you! Those are very kind words. I love Steve Weinberg’s quote, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”

      Thank you for watching!

  7. Leslie April 25, 2017 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Lance, you said you are not emotional? LOL. I kid… I found you and your wife completely endearing. Many of what you said are my exact thoughts. Loved this interview and I wish you two the most happiness! (Also, leaving the church was AMAZING for my marriage for many of the same reasons you stated. Crazy how that works, huh??)

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      haha…I’m a big boob when it comes to my dad, and leaving the church. Otherwise, I’m a pretty cold-hearted Mr Krabs. :)

      Our marriage didn’t get the help it needed until we left the church. Now we connect on such a deeper level. Both as a couple and as parents. It’s amazing how much deeper our relationship is with our kids. Thank you!

  8. John T April 26, 2017 at 11:01 am - Reply

    It’s interesting that something as harmless as meat is named in the WoW but coffee, teas, AND alcohol is not named in there bahahahaha. PS Coffee tastes good too so…there’s that. Great interview you guys. I really find comfort in these so I can know I’m not alone or crazy.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      I still hate the taste of coffee. haha! Thank you for making me laugh. ;)

  9. AB April 27, 2017 at 6:41 am - Reply

    I loved everything about this episode! Nicki and Lance had so many good comments about so many different aspects of the Mormon experience. I kind of want to know what else Lance wanted to share but didn’t due to time constraints. I could definitely listen to more from these guys!

    The church and its proponents like to focus on the good that it does, but this interview made it really clear that the church causes real pain and does real harm to good, honest people. Thanks, Nicki and Lance, for being willing to share. Lots of love!

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Wow, thank you! You’re a Miles podcast masochist…lol! So, here were a few things I didn’t have time to share:

      My end-of-days perilous thoughts. 9/11 and what Hinckley said (or didn’t say) in the next Spring General Conference. I was very much taught that the second coming was neigh and I, like many people, thought 9/11 was going to usher in the Millennium.

      The results of my finding out that Mormons used to speak in tongues just like my Pentecostal mission friends.

      Same thing about finding out about how the 11 BoM witnesses used “second sight” to see the gold plates (at least huge evidence in favor of it being visionary), and how I wished so bad I could go back and talk to my dad about the witnesses and their so-called testimonies.

      I forgot to mention how I threw away my dad’s life story (typed out) when we were sorting through his possessions after his death. This is a huge regret for me now. I would give anything to read what he took time to tell his loved ones. After the confirming advise of my patriarchal brother, I decided it would be better to just throw the manuscript away rather than have the family continue to suffer with my dad’s temporary lifestyle choice. :( Horrible! Terrible! Despicable! :(

      My intense spiritual witness that we should move to Oregon (the most confirmed answer to a prayer that I’ve ever received) only to realize the Mormon guy who got us into the mattress business was completely lying to us and ended up going to jail.

      A failed miracle about us being okay if we would just keep our business closed on Sunday.

      How we were “punished by God” a few months after we left the church but then had one of the most miraculous experiences of our lives (concerning our business) …all while I’m no longer believing in a God.

      How South Park was more honest than my own church.

      I dunno…it’s quite a list. haha!

      Thank you so much for hearing us!

  10. John T April 27, 2017 at 9:55 am - Reply

    It’s good to hear that the apostles are split on allowing homosexuals to participate in church. This is hopeful information. I think a generation from now the church will be different.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      I agree. It’s just sad how many people will be hurt in the mean time. :(

  11. Heather Young April 27, 2017 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your life story, Nicki and Lance. I really appreciate Mormon Stories for the platform it provides so people have a place to tell their truths. I resonated with both Nicki and Lance’s desires to be good people, doing good works. Neither of them has a mean bone in their bodies, yet the church twisted their innate goodness into an ugly club to beat their loved ones with.

    My heart goes out to them, for the pain they feel regarding the past. I too have deep regrets for things I have done/said/thought because of church indoctrination. The Mormon God is actually quite mean and harmful.

    May Nicki and Lance continue to have the life they have worked hard to earn.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Thank you for such kind, thoughtful words. I’ve said it before but I love this quote by Steven Weinberg, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”

      Hindsight is 20/20 so all I can do is reset the direction I’m headed. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have in front of me.

  12. Jerome April 28, 2017 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    I say this with all affection: Nicki and Lance, you guys win the prize for heaviest Utah accent on Mormon Stories. You even beat Grant Palmer.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      Bawhahahaha! I don’t hear it. lol

      But those around me in Oregon sure do! :)

  13. May April 28, 2017 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    This brought up all the guilt that I had during my teens with boyfriend (current husband) to the surface again. I am so glad that I no longer have to live in that space anymore. Thank you for sharing your story since it is the story so many of us go through in the church. Your story is beautiful!

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      There’s so much shamming done to teenagers. What’s so heartbreaking is we continue to let it happen as adults. :(

      Thank you for sharing in our lives!

  14. VFanRJ April 30, 2017 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Nicki and Lance are enormously blessed that they went out together. It could have been much worse.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      lol….that’s a great way to look at it. ;)

  15. Justin April 30, 2017 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    I also had the good fortune to speak with Marlin Jensen on my way out of the Church. He was my mission president in New York many years ago and I reached out to him before officially shutting the door on the LDS Church. His answers to me were very similar to the answers given to Nicki and Lance.

    I did find it surprising that Nicki felt he didn’t value her voice in the meeting. My experience with him was that he always went out of his way to hear from women and to show his wife that she was his equal (or superior) in every way.

    Although I didn’t like his answers to my questions I will always retain a ton of respect for Marlin Jensen. He is truly one of the kindest people I have ever met.

    • Lance Miles May 2, 2017 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Wow…a great coincidence that you met with him also. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  16. K May 2, 2017 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Incredible wonderful awesome !!!!!
    Glad to share the wonderful accepting non-judgment spirit of Oregon with you !! What a great opportunity to live in a place like this🌲🌲🌲🌲🌲
    We lived in Eugene for three years–now in Portland😍 It makes a softer landing for those of us who find the devastating truth about the church
    I share so many similar experiences within the church and through the transition
    I think we all have such great regrets of our judgmentall narrow minded guilt ridden fearful attitudes— and how they affected those we loved. That is perhaps the most painful part of the transition —–awareness of how the church doctrine affected how we treated those we loved
    Would have enjoyed many hours more of listening to you!!! you are so honest and vulnerable and so authentic–intelligent and informed —and truly compassionate caring people —coupled with the courage to speak out

    Really really inspirational!!!
    Can’t help but love you❤️

    • Lance Miles May 22, 2017 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Thank you so much, K. Glad to know you’re a fellow Oregonian! We LOVE Eugene. We couldn’t believe the difference in church members compared to Utah…much more loving and non-judgmental (in spite of still being judgmental…lol). And more-so, we couldn’t believe how nice and moral our many non-Mormon friends were/are.

      Thank you for taking the time to listen to our story and express kindness to us!

  17. Damaris May 4, 2017 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Oh my gosh I love this couple. You two have such an awesome dynamic. Thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us.

  18. Old Dog May 5, 2017 at 3:24 am - Reply

    Thanks, Lance and Nicki, for so openly and humbly sharing your incredible journey. I can relate to so many of your thoughts, experiences, and feelings. It is good to hear others give voice to the things I have thought myself, but never said, because no one would have wanted to hear it.

  19. Jill Mitchell May 9, 2017 at 12:18 am - Reply

    I appreciate your willingness to share your stories. I actually wanted it to keep going to cover everything. It was one of the best I have watched thus far. I’m so happy for your family.

  20. Andy May 11, 2017 at 4:57 am - Reply

    Lance, I very much appreciated your interview. I knew your father; he worked with my mother for many years at the Ogden School District. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known. His coming out had a profound impact on my family. He was a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lance Miles May 22, 2017 at 10:27 am - Reply

      Wow, Andy…

      It’s been a few weeks since I last checked these comments. You just made my Monday by leaving this comment. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO grateful for the kindness and generosity the co-workers at OSD showed to my dad. His family played a very negative role in his personal life but I’m so grateful he was able to keep his career going and find some fulfillment at the OSD.

      Thank you so much for sharing that experience! Wow…the internet is so amazing to connect the most unlikely people. <3

  21. Lori May 11, 2017 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Lance and Nicki, I don’t know you, but I sure want to. I loved this interview! You guys are awesome and your journey feels so familiar. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  22. Lance Miles May 22, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    I just want to say thank you to everyone for showing so much kindness and love towards our family. This interview has been incredible for us. We have connected with past friends, made an impact with many people and have new friendships across the world because of this opportunity.

    Thank you all so much for taking time out of your busy lives to listen/watch our story and give your feedback. Seeing your strength and kindness has been immensely rewarding to our personal lives and our marriage relationship. All the love and best of luck in your own journeys. <3 <3

  23. LauraTL June 10, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I listened to every single minute and loved it! Lance–I was moved tears as you described your remorse at your treatment of your dad. You were only “following the script” that you were given, as many of us have done in various ways in the past. The “gay issue” is what broke the Church deal for my immediate family after my son came out at age 18. Thank goodness it happened eight years ago instead of two decades earlier–we at least had some accurate resources to help us understand what was actually going on. I’m glad you were able to leave together (as did my husband and I): going out of the Church alone would have been excruciatingly difficult! Thanks again to both of you–an honest and refreshing interview!

  24. Jodi June 12, 2017 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    I’m at the beginning of all this and hearing stories is so helpful.
    You two are wonderful, and great together. Thanks for sharing a message of hope! And for being willing to be so vulnerable.
    I especially appreciate hearing ways to, and ways not to, approach family as this is all ahead of me.

  25. Melissa Comer July 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I just watched your episode and really appreciate your honesty and raw emotions. My husband and I are in the middle of our transition. Both returned missionaries, the only in our families, so there is so much pressure on us to be the “golden” ones. I like Lance started to bring things to my husband on gospel “truths” distraught about what I was taught vs the actual truth. But in effort to appease others we have tried to remain in the faith.

    Just recently we decided that being in the religion was no longer health to any of us. I have suffered bouts of depression and anxiety, as I have felt not enough in the religion. How can anyone feel like they are enough? So much pressure to do everything and do everything better than the next.

    While there are so many good aspects of the church, there are so many that are not healthy or positive. I think fondly about so many experiences but they are now stained with untruths. I have worried for our children and wanted to find a way to avoid them feeling exactly as us, bound, no opportunity to make choices (free agency…hah!), depression, pressure and making decisions based on fear.

    We are now trying to navigate. Decide what to say and when. Its hard, we don’t want to make anyone feel that being in the church is bad, but we also don’t want anyone to tell us that being outside the church is bad. I am sure we have a lot to face in the upcoming months. Many decisions to make.

    Again, thanks for your message. I see a lot of parallels to our life, struggles and upcoming journey….but somehow I feel like life is just starting :)

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